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U.N. sanctions, human rights resolutions on N.K. would eventually work: Seoul's U.N. envoy

2015/10/21 07:04

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (Yonhap) -- U.N. sanctions and human rights resolutions will eventually cause pain to North Korea, even though such effects are slow in coming, South Korea's ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday.

"The way I see it, sanctions work, but they work only in an accumulated form. So, you continue sanctions year after year and eventually it takes a toll," Amb. Oh Joon said during a security seminar, pointing out doubts about the efficacy of sanctions on the North.

Oh cited examples like Iran and Libya, saying that sanctions on those countries didn't look like they were working in the beginning, but after years of implementation they proved effective.

"If you have sanctions, you cannot have proper trade, you cannot have proper financial activities with foreign countries. No country in the world is an island. No country can survive by itself. So, I think eventually, it works, but it takes time," he said during the seminar hosted jointly by the Heritage Foundation and the Institute for Corean-American Studies.

The same applies to U.N. human rights resolutions, he said.

"The U.N.'s human rights discussion doesn't have teeth. It's not like a Security Council sanctions. Still, when you discuss a certain country's human rights in the U.N. and adopt resolutions every year, it makes difference," the ambassador said.

Oh called such resolutions a "naming and shaming" approach.

"In the case of North Korea, even though we have been doing that for last 10 years, in the beginning they didn't care. They didn't care until 2013. North Korea didn't show any interest in whatever human rights resolutions the United Nations adopted," Oh said.

"But last year, North Korea responded sensitively. They argued that they don't have human rights violations in North Korea ... they tried to stop the adoption of the resolution," he said. "The fact that they are responding sensitively is important. That is what the United Nations aims to see when they have this naming and shaming approach."

   The envoy was referring to a landmark resolution the U.N. General Assembly adopted last year. It called for the U.N. Security Council to refer North's human rights abuses to the International Criminal Court. Sources at the U.N. have said South Korea, the U.S. and other like-minded countries are working on a similar new resolution this year.

Oh said that the U.N. is ready to help with inter-Korea reconciliation.

"When the right moment arrives, there will be opportunities for the UN to play a greater role, including the secretary general's mediation role," he said.